Inexperienced and impatient he took off in the plane

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) - Remember June's plane crash in Mineola. The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that 65-year-old Johnny Hearon was flying without a pilot's license. The pilot walked away from the crash alive. But, on the way down, he landed on and killed a grazing cow. Hearon is still being treated at a Tyler hospital.

It was the scariest moment of his life and he is a little hazy on the details.

"The last thing I remember was banking off to the left to go around again, and after that it go hard to handle, and I don't remember from there on," said Hearon.

The scars speak for themselves. He walked away from the crash with his life, but a list of injuries have kept him the hospital ever since. He has two broken bones in his left leg, a broken wrist, nine staples to close a gash on his head and shattered cheek bones.

"I've had reconstructive surgery on my mouth," he said. "They put plates in my mouth and they put plates and pins and stuff in my leg."

Hearon says he didn't plan on going up in the air that day alone.

"It's been more than 30 years since I landed one," said Hearon. "So, it's not something you can just do."

He says he had a scheduled lesson with a flight instructor, but that the instructor took to long to get to his plane. Inexperienced and impatient, Hearon decided to fast taxi the aircraft on the runway, but to his surprise the aircraft took off!

"It was, 'Oh dear, what do I do now?" laughed Hearon. "I never expected it to get up in the air and have to land it."

We went out to Wisener Field to talk to the manager as to whether or not he knew the extent of Johnny Hearon's flying experience. When we went out there the first time for this report, they did acknowledge that he had little to no experience. But, an affidavit just released by the FAA and the NTSB confirms that Johnny Hearon was flying without a pilot's license or a medical certificate.

And, as for the cow he killed on the way down...

"Yea, I've got a lot of grief about that cow," said Hearon. "I was just crashing my plane on a normal crash operation and this cow jumped in my way."

Though, he nearly lost his life, Hearon still wants to learn how to fly a plane and earn his license. But, this time you won't catch him without an instructor.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," he laughed.

Doctors expect Hearon to make a full recovery. As for the report filed by the NTSB, it is just preliminary and all of the information is subject to change upon further investigation.

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